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Seventeen MD Officers Charged In Kickback Scheme

Seventeen MD Officers Charged In Kickback Scheme

Baltimore police stand near the scene where an early morning shooting occurred Sunday, Jan. 9, 2011 in Baltimore. [AP]

Macon Telegraph via YellowBrix

February 24, 2011

BALTIMORE — Seventeen Baltimore police officers were charged Wednesday with taking kickbacks for diverting drivers at accident scenes to an unauthorized towing company and repair shop.

A criminal complaint charges the officers and the owners of Majestic Auto Repair Shop in Rosedale with conspiracy to commit extortion in the course of their official duties. Brothers Edwin Javier Mejia and Hernan Alexis Moreno Mejia paid officers to arrange for their company, which wasn’t a city-authorized shop, to tow vehicles from accident scenes and make repairs, according to the criminal complaint.

Officers are supposed to allow the owner to arrange for a tow on their own, or if the owner declines, to use police communication channels to contact only an authorized towing company. The officers charged in this scheme would state in reports that the owners arranged for their own tow or would leave that portion of the form blank, according to the complaint.

They would tell owners that Majestic could help with the insurance claim and waive the deductible, advising them not to call the insurance company before talking with the repair shop owner, the complaint alleges.

A claim would be submitted to the insurance company for repairs made by Majestic to the towed vehicle. Officers received $300 for each vehicle they steered to Majestic and one officer received more than $14,400 over two years, according to the complaint.

Fifteen officers were told to report to the police academy Wednesday morning for an equipment check, but instead they were met by FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard McFeely and Commissioner Frederick Bealefeld, who collected their badges before they were arrested.

“I personally took the badges from every one of those men who were arrested today,” Bealefeld said at a news conference Wednesday. “I did that as the representative of all those dedicated, honorable men and women who serve and have worn this uniform. I did it for them.”


Two officers charged Wednesday were on leave and were not arrested, but will be soon, according to department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi. The 17 officers are suspended without pay, he said.

The department learned of the allegations against the officers and later turned to the FBI for help with the probe, Bealefeld said. The investigation, which involved wiretaps and surveillance, has been extremely difficult, according to U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein. He said there may be more arrests.

Each defendant faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

No one answered at Majestic on Wednesday evening, and an outgoing message said the shop is closed until further notice for a business emergency.

Rosenstein called the charges a double-edged sword. He said people might think that there is corruption inside the department, but they should also realize that the department is aggressively investigating it to stamp it out.

“Police officers are supposed to be working the police department, not the highest bidder,” Rosenstein said.


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  • Photo_user_blank_big

    ralphw

    over 3 years ago

    10 Comments

    I want to state upfront that I am a civilian commentator. I do so appreciate law enforcement....properly performed. I do not purport to know the burdens, but as one commentator put it: "iintegrity is integrity; you either have it or you don't." I do pray for the families of those under accussation; I know they are sufferring.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    SHARRI8

    over 3 years ago

    106 Comments

    YEA.......YEA ......YOU DONT DESERVE TO WEAR THE BADGE.....

  • Copy_of_marine_photo_edited_edited_max50

    MarineMPSpecReac

    over 3 years ago

    230 Comments

    lawman1214 I'm not sure what direction you're spouting in. But You have a lot of criticism on this thread. Myself and all persons who've read this story or commented here most likely only have this story to go by, including you. The key word here is "IF" the 17 did what is alleged then yes they deserve what they got or are getting. I don't even know if you are a police officer or just a visitor who set up a profile so you can comment. But police work is about serving the public, the very communities were are born out of and bred from. Police are entrusted with incredible power, sometimes too much. But when officers who wear a badge and swore an oath, they swore that oath to the community all the way up the nation of which they belong. We need integrity from all those who wear the badge if we are to do our jobs and do them safely. In today's mixed up world, especially in these times, we must be above reproach. A good officer is one who only serves justice and does not diminish his reputation to show partiality. "PDYER" Is right on point. If those we arrest for doing the immoral and illegal, than surely those who arrest others for doing the same are not above the law. They are being hypocrites to it, that will not do...

  • Academyrun_014_max50

    pdyer

    over 3 years ago

    354 Comments

    There is no place for dishonesty in LE. If they are found guilty of taking kick-backs or falsifying reports I think they should be fired and spend some time in jail.

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    lawman1214

    over 3 years ago

    60 Comments

    My how "the new breed" of runny nose ,inexperienced, cops blast this "all bad apples? with hopes that they get what's coming to them! By the way, did you same "know it all cops" support the suspension of the two helicopter pilots that were suspended for watching the Rodney King Incident from the air? Was that Fair? How about the 12 of the 14 "Rampart Scandal cops who were cleared based on proven lies of the prime witness, Perez. the 12 innocent officers were used to create a "huge" hornets' nest that Perez created in his own mind to confuse the DA's office so he could keep reducing his sentence. He served less than a year at the expense of 12 good cops. But I'm sure you all think they must be dirty of something? Right? U all should be ashamed! I heard all 12 left California. Maybe they will be passing through your area while you're getting your butt's kicked and they can stop and help you. They don't need to know what you really think of them. Do they?

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Buster10

    over 3 years ago

    258 Comments

    "Closed For A Business Emergency " LOL, As for the "Fella" thats whining about us passing judgment Ill simply say that commenting on this story is not a declaration of guilt for those involved but Ill bet the case is strong , very strong!

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Silent_Observer

    over 3 years ago

    446 Comments

    Integrity is integrity. You either have it or you don't. If kickbacks were happening, I don't believe for a second that was the worst of it. Let them have their day in court, but if the evidence holds up I say good riddens to bad rubbish.

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    beauinlieuof

    over 3 years ago

    88 Comments

    Not nice guys makes the good officers look bad. Hope you can prove your innocence. Those that aren't need to pay back the community for the wrong they did. We out here are suppose to trust you with our lives so how are supposeto trust you now. I still believe in the good guys.

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    Maj_Ronzheimer

    over 3 years ago

    46 Comments

    Let a court of law decide from the evidance presented. I hope something good comes out of this case.
    A sorry state of affairs.

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    Anonymous

    over 3 years ago

    This makes it bad for the good guys.People begin to wonder who is good and who is bad.Me, myself I don't judge until I know for sure.It's tough for the Police who are out their really doing their jobs for this to happen.God Bless You all of you who take you jobs serious.And for the ones who don't,why would your ruin your lives and others around you.Shame on you.

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    MeanStreets949

    over 3 years ago

    2318 Comments

    Another black eye for law enforcement.....

  • Half_dome_yosemite_national_park_max50

    TreeHugger719

    over 3 years ago

    464 Comments

    No surprise when you have an agency where a large percentage of its Officers can barely speak the english language.

  • Ralphie_max50

    rafaelmorales

    over 3 years ago

    2994 Comments

    HORRIBLE!!!!!!!!

  • Johnf_max50

    cheetah_speed1

    over 3 years ago

    464 Comments

    If your getting a little cash on the side while on patrol, that should immediately send up a red flag. Good luck to any of them that are innocent & caught up in this web. But it sounds like they got themselves pretty well stung by the operation.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    lawman1214

    over 3 years ago

    60 Comments

    It seems that (at least most) you officers' and civilian commentators' have decided the officers are guilty. Just because you are told to believe it? How about if I tell you that I have personal and professional experience with being accused of an action I did not commit. I was proven innocent, and to carry it to a higher level, three of the witnesses admitted , under oath, that they were not sure I was guilty, and they had only expressed their personal opinion in the investigation, without any supporting factual evidence. You all are so fast to decapitate your own, without a fair chance of defense. What the hell is wrong with you guys? They might be guilty, They might not be guilty, but just caught up in the web. Some may have been in training and told to call this tow company by their FTO, and never knew any better. None of us know the facts, just the selected information we are allowed to read. Be a cop and an American and remember, don't pass judgment until a court has concluded the case, not the public. And. certainly not the FBI.

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